The biochemistry of lanthanide acquisition, trafficking, and utilization

Emily R. Featherston, Joseph A. Cotruvo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Lanthanides are relative newcomers to the field of cell biology of metals; their specific incorporation into enzymes was only demonstrated in 2011, with the isolation of a bacterial lanthanide- and pyrroloquinoline quinone-dependent methanol dehydrogenase. Since that discovery, the efforts of many investigators have revealed that lanthanide utilization is widespread in environmentally important bacteria, and parallel efforts have focused on elucidating the molecular details involved in selective recognition and utilization of these metals. In this review, we discuss the particular chemical challenges and advantages associated with biology's use of lanthanides, as well as the currently known lanthano-enzymes and -proteins (the lanthanome). We also review the emerging understanding of the coordination chemistry and biology of lanthanide acquisition, trafficking, and regulatory pathways. These studies have revealed significant parallels with pathways for utilization of other metals in biology. Finally, we discuss some of the many unresolved questions in this burgeoning field and their potentially far-reaching applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118864
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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